It has been just about two months since I left camp. I’ve been putting off this blog entry due to the vast range of emotions (and the craziness of life!) that has come since leaving the beautiful woods in Wisconsin. Below is part of a blog entry I apparently started in April. I don’t remember writing it, but that doesn’t surprise me because everything after Easter is a very busy blur!
As I said, we were a bit busier in the past two months. We took our talents on the road multiple times to different parishes and schools and it was SO. MUCH. FUN! We worked with preschool-8th grade on these various retreats (some were just middle school, some we broke into groups and our team covered different ages, some we worked all together…you get the picture) and we learned very quickly how to transition from talking about sharing and taking turns with the little guys to carrying our burdens and holding each other up in prayer with the older students. Call me crazy, but my most favorite part of going to the schools was OBVIOUSLY lunch and recess time 🙂 I ate with the littlest guys both times and it was very amusing to hear what second grade boys and kindergarteners talk about at these times. And recess! Oh my goodness– football, playing on the jungle gyms and playing in the snow! Yes, you read that correctly! Here in Wisconsin the kids play in the snow drifts during recess as long as they have proper snow gear with them (and let’s be honest- these kids live in Wisconsin. OF COURSE they all have snow gear with them every day!)
We have also been blessed with some amazing high schoolers here on camp. They have been coming for Confirmation retreats and have taught us just as much as we have been trying to teach them. I always get nervous to have these kids come to camp, as you never know what you are going to get when they get off the bus or out of their cars. We are asking them to give up precious weekend time to spend with us and that, I know, doesn’t always sound appealing. I have been incredibly appreciative of my small groups and for the time we have spent as an all-girls larger group, to hear the discussions, concerns and just about their daily lives.
One of the most difficult groups for me this winter was our open elementary school retreat. 30 kids in 3-5th grade. Don’t get me wrong, they were a BLAST! And I laughed a ton! But I had sort of forgotten (or repressed the memories!) how early they wake up. The last student finally settled in for the night at 1:30am (nothing is more terrifying than waking up to a small child standing over your face at 1am sobbing that they want to go home!) and promptly at 5:15am I heard the first kid skid down the hall, ready to go. Luckily, they were pretty well-behaved and laid in bed until it was time to get up over two hours later, but remember that Lenten sacrifice I mentioned earlier? Mine was coffee.
Coffee has taken an extreme precedence in my life. I’m usually a 2-4 cups a day person. I can drink it virtually anytime. My team has voiced it many times that Beth without coffee is a rough day all around. I love coffee and have an extreme appreciation for the caffeine it provides. They were incredibly shocked when this became my Lenten promise. Actually, they were nervous and scared for this. But I was determined to not let my caffeine withdrawl effect my performance, my mood or my team. And if I do say so myself, I did a darn good job! However, those early, EARLY mornings were definitely more of a challenge than I had ever hoped.
I often find myself wondering how much I have actually changed while being at camp. I mean, yes, some of my priorities have changed, I am more cost conscientious and I don’t have the energy to match my socks anymore! (Thank goodness for the camp trend of mismatched socks!!) But really, has anything happened that will stay with me past my time in good ol’ Wisconsin?
So, what has changed? Certainly not my love of coffee. (Down to one travel mug a day, but still a big deal in my life!) I think the things that have stuck with me aren’t necessarily physical, though I do have a couple sweet scars on my leg from some rabid sticks. What has stuck with me is the empathy I learned to give to the toughest students. The patience to work a 17 hour day and still be smiling at the end. The humor to brush off the little mishaps. The sense of adventure to leap out of my comfort zone. The courage to see God at work in everything.
I would not have traded the last year for anything in the world. I miss Camp more than I thought was possible, but I am at peace knowing that God chose exactly the right time to end that adventure and start a new one. It also helps to know that Camp will always be there to welcome me back when I happen to be in/near Wisconsin or if I just need a Catholic boost.
So, this chapter is closed and so, I suppose, this is the end of this blog. Weird. So very weird. But not the end of the adventure that is my life. The next blog is located at sainttraining.wordpress.com with the first post coming shortly, mostly to explain the name.
I’ll leave you with the Camp version of the Irish Blessing. Thanks for sticking with me this last year… Oh, Camp Gray- How I love ya!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLin3rPfaEo (cue my tears)